Three bowlers and four batsmen fail as Australia plummet

Jaideep Varma
Soham Sarkhel

Match scorecard
Impact match sheet

Australia (237-9 and 131) lost to India (503) by an innings and 135 runs.

Australia lost a Test match by an innings for the first time in history by a team that declared its first innings closed. MS Dhoni became India’s most successful captain in Test cricket with his 22nd win in 45 Tests as captain. Ashwin got his 8th five-wicket haul in 14 Tests. This is how trivia is piled up in traditional cricket statistics – neither of these facts says anything worthwhile about the encounter that just happened but this is what you will see in the media all around you, some even suggesting that this is innovative cutting-edge data.

What can we come up with that others can’t? Let’s see. How’s this – despite taking exactly the same number of wickets in the match (six), Jadeja’s bowling impact was 17% higher than Ashwin’s (primarily for his economical bowling). Or this? Pujara’s innings of 204 in this match actually had a higher impact in this match than Dhoni’s blistering innings of 224 did in the last one (primarily because of how poorly Australia batted). You decide what has more value.

Poor team selection from Australia (dropping their second-highest impact bowler from their last match – Nathan Lyon) and uninspiring batting from them (besides Clarke and Cowan, none of their specialist batsmen could even cross an impact of 1 – signifying a failure all around) was likely to be enough to put them on the mat. Their uninspiring bowling (3 of their 5 bowlers could not cross an impact of 1) comprehensively torpedoed their cause.(Contrastingly, 3 batsmen and 1 bowler failed in the Indian side)

This is the Impact summary for the game – it shows what each player registered on an Impact meter. In a match context, these numbers are between a scale of 0 to 5 (so, anything more than 5 is restricted to 5 to avoid career skews).



Some interesting takeouts:

Cheteshwar Pujara (204) was unambiguously the highest impact player of the match – and Murali Vijay (167) wasn’t far behind. Both had exactly the same attributes right through their respective innings (both absorbed the same pressure at 17-1 and had the same partnership-building impact) – the difference between Pujara’s and Vijay’s batting impact in the match is entirely attributable to the 37 runs more that Pujara scored. The fact that Pujara hit 30 boundaries and a six to Vijay’s 23 boundaries and 2 sixes or even that he managed to accomplish the landmark of a double hundred has no consequence at all to what impact they registered.

Ravindra Jadeja was India’s highest impact bowler – a fine performance, given that he was also India’s second-highest impact bowler in the last match after Ashwin. His 6-66 in 34 overs had everything – he built pressure by taking quick wickets, his efficiency (wickets-runs ratio) was the highest in the match and he was the only one who had an economy impact in the game (a rarity in Tests) – for the second consecutive time in the series. That photogenic ball that bowled Clarke was by no means a freak occurrence – Jadeja would comfortably hold his place in the current Test team purely as a bowler (which is just as well, as he has not done much with the bat yet, or rather, needed to). Perhaps the Jadeja jokes need to cease now.

Ravichandran Ashwin took his 8th five-wicket haul in 14 Tests, which is truly outstanding. However, his match figures of 6-104 in 43 overs still had a slightly lower impact than Jadeja’s mainly because of how much more economical Jadeja was in the context of the match. Harbhajan Singh, who bowled very tightly in the second innings (0-10 in 10 overs) did not bowl enough overs to register this impact either.

Glenn Maxwell was Australia’s highest impact player but he was largely helped by the “cheap wickets” he got when India were going for quick runs (though it can also be argued that he played a big part in India losing the last 9 wickets for 116 runs, which couldn’t have been India’s plan). His 4-127 in 26 overs perhaps somewhat fortuitous for his wickets column – not bad for someone who was definitely not a better option than Lyon as a pure spinning option. Given that Maxwell failed with the bat in both innings, it would be interesting to see if he gets to play the next Test.

Michael Clarke was once again Australia’s highest impact batsman (9th out for 91 in the first innings and an inadequate 16 in the second) – he and Mathew Wade (62 and 10; also the second-highest impact Australian batsman in the match) absorbed the highest pressure in the match, as they stabilised their first innings from 63-4. They took the score to 208 and it was the only time in the match that Australia looked like getting the upper hand.

Even though Xavier Doherty picked up three wickets in the match, his eventual bowling impact in the match was the lowest amongst all the bowlers who took at least a wicket. All of Doherty's wickets comprised of lower order batsmen and more importantly his lack of effectiveness (negative Efficiency Impact) throughout India's batting innings ensured very low Bowling Impact numbers. He needed better support from the other end.

A simple mistake Australia can make for the next Test is to drop Doherty for Lyon – when actually evidence suggests both of them should bowl in tandem. Maxwell, if he plays, should be the support spinning all-rounder, not the lead spinner.

However, Australia play in Mohali next – where their fast bowlers could have a more emphatic say. But without Mitchell Johnson being fully fit and both Siddle and Starc looking as listless as they are, things don’t look very encouraging for Australia at the moment.

Still, with the series still open, you can rely on the Aussie spirit to come back with all guns blazing. Especially with a 9-day break now, and most importantly with an in-form and aggressive captain like Michael Clarke in charge.

Impact sheet for 1st Test


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